Why Some Personal Injury Cases Go To Court
You may have to file a legal claim to get compensated for your injuries, suffering and lost wages. Once you consider filing a lawsuit, you may picture your case going to trial, to be determined by a jury. However, the truth is that the vast majority of personal injury cases never make it to trial. Instead, personal injury cases are usually settled between the parties before a jury is even selected.
There are a lot of factors that may play into whether your case goes to court or not. It could depend on the extent of the injury, relationship between the plaintiff and defendants, and the willingness of the parties to reach a settlement agreement. A settlement can often be preferable to taking the case to trial, saving you time, money, and unnecessary aggravation. However, if the other side is not willing to offer you a fair settlement, your attorney can take the case to court, to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Settlement Negotiations Before Filing a Lawsuit
In some cases, you can have your personal injury claim settled before a lawsuit is even filed. There are a number of benefits to settling your case before it goes through the legal process. The courts are often crowded with cases, which may lead to long delays before your first hearings before a judge. The standard legal process also involves a number of required steps, each of which will take your attorney time to prepare and present. By avoiding the legal process, you can get compensation much more quickly and avoid a complex litigation process.
The other benefit of a settlement is that you are in control of the terms of the agreement. The scope of a legal claim may be limited, but you and the other party are free to draft any kind of agreement you want, so long as it is mutually agreeable. This can give you a great amount of flexibility to give you the settlement you are looking for.
If you want to settle your claim before filing suit, contact your personal injury attorney as soon as possible. There may be time restrictions which limit how long you have to file a legal claim if negotiations break down. Your attorney will contact the other parties involved, and engage in negotiations on your behalf. Because your attorney will be very familiar with personal injury claims, negotiations, and the legal process, they have a good understanding of what your case may be worth, and will fight to get you the best settlement possible. Of course, the ultimate decision of whether to accept a settlement is up to you, the client.
After Filing a Legal Claim
If the person responsible for your injuries does not offer you an acceptable settlement offer, you should take them to court. At this point, your attorney will be familiar with your case, and make sure it is filed in time, in the proper venue, naming all responsible parties. Once the defendant understands they are not facing litigation, they may be more willing to settle the case.
The legal process begins slowly, with filing a complaint, and the defendants responding by filing an answer. Then the discovery process begins, with each side providing interrogatory answers, relevant documents, depositions, expert reports, and other evidence. All throughout the process, your attorney will be in contact with the defendant's attorney to negotiate for a significant settlement award on your behalf.
You want to have an attorney with experience negotiating personal injury cases, to make sure you get the best settlement possible, under your terms and conditions. If the defendants don't want to offer a fair amount, your attorney will continue to prepare your case for trial, to present your claim to a jury of your peers.
Even though you can settle your case at any point through the legal process, the further the case goes, the more likely it will be to reach a settlement. Often times, a case is settled just before it reaches trial. At this point, both sides have all of the evidence available and understand the legal issues. With all the information available, the two sides will more easily reach settlement terms that are acceptable to all sides.
Court-Imposed Settlement Negotiations
As the case gets closer to trial, the court may send the case for further negotiations. This could include alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, or it could involve a settlement conference with the judge.
Mediation is a non-binding alternative to having the court decide your case. A neutral third-party will act as the mediator. They will hear both sides of the case, and in some cases also speak to each side separately. The mediator will try and narrow down the disputed terms, and get each side to come up with agreeable terms and options. The mediator will not decide the case, but instead tries to facilitate communication so that both sides can come to a mutually agreeable settlement. If the parties agree to a decision, the mediator will draw up the agreement, and the case will not have to go to trial.
Alternatively, the judge may hold a settlement conference with the parties involved, to see if the matter can be settled before going to trial. There are a number of reasons each side may want to settle the case before trial. Even if it has taken a couple of years to get to trial, the trial itself can be a lengthy process. It involves arguing pretrial motions, jury selection, presenting evidence, arguments before the court, cross-examination, jury instruction, and jury deliberation. This will require a lot of time, money, and could be a very stressful experience for the plaintiff and their family.
Additionally, jury decisions can be very unpredictable. Even if you have a strong case, some of the jury members may not like you for some unrelated reason or they may not like your medical expert. A jury could award you a million dollars, or they could award you nothing. In some cases, the jury might decide that you should pay the defendant! Because of the unpredictable nature of a jury trial, an agreeable settlement is almost always the preferred outcome of everyone involved. This is why almost 95% of personal injury cases settle before they get to trial.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
At Gilman & Bedigian we have been handling Philadelphia personal injury cases for years. Our attorneys have extensive experience in all kinds of cases, from car accidents to class action lawsuits against large multinational corporations. Having an attorney on your side can help you navigate the complicated legal system and fight for your rights for you so you can focus on recovery. Whether we win a quick settlement, or take your case all the way to trial, please feel free contact Gilman & Bedigian today.